Two years after arriving in USA, De La Cruz brothers fuel Denbigh volleyball

De La Cruz
Posted at 10:44 PM, Nov 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-03 23:55:53-04

NEWPORT NEWS, VA (WTKR)- Step into a volleyball practice at Denbigh High School, and you'll find the sights and sounds of a team preparing to compete for a region title.

At the center of the Patriots' success, Rey and Jomarie De La Cruz, who came to Newport News from the other side of the world. Rey, the older of the two, wasn't always into volleyball. Badminton was his sport of choice during his younger years.

"When I played volleyball, I liked it so much," the elder De La Cruz said. "I stopped Badminton and played volleyball over and over. That's how I like it now."

Rey passed his love for the game and skill onto Jomarie in their native Philippines. As their love for the sport continued to grow, they discovered there weren't many chances to play.

"We don't play in a tournament, we just played in a backyard," recalled Rey. "Sometimes we played on a covered court, but it's not a tournament."

In 2019, Rey and Jomarie moved to Virginia with their grandparents. They began school at Denbigh and got their first true taste of organized volleyball, joining a team and competing against surrounding schools, with daily practices during the season.

"It makes me happy and makes me strong," Jomarie noted.

"I like that people cheer [for] you," Rey added, also pointing out that he enjoys celebrating with his teammates after a win. "It gives me happiness to play."

Patriots' head coach Kayleigh Sears has a front row seat to the De La Cruz's development this season. Despite Rey being older, both brothers are juniors in high school and excel on the court.

"There is that kind of barrier, but I see their skill, I see their potential, so I want to work with them the very best I can and give them every opportunity possible," Sears said.

The De La Cruz's native language is Tagalog and they did not speak much English upon arriving in the United States. Since then, their vocabulary has grown, but is still limited. Rey is a little bit further along than his younger brother in that regard. However, both can still communicate effectively with teammates on the court. Everybody speaks the common language of volleyball.

"They're just so in-sync," Sears noted. "There's limited communication, but that's honestly all they really need. It's very fascinating to watch them all play."

Both Rey and Jomarie are fitting right in. Both are part of Denbigh's starting line-up and Rey is the Patriots' team captain.

"I know they enjoy it," Sears observed. "They honestly help everybody on the team so much."

The game has provided the brothers with a team, friends and so much more. Rey hopes to continue playing volleyball in college and jokes that he'll be pressuring his brother to do so as well. Either way, it has opened doors for them that will serve them well both on and off the court.

"This is it," Rey smiled. "This is my dream. I'm so proud of coming here and playing volleyball here in the U.S. This is my future."